It took me a while to learn that less is more when creating classroom rules. Click below to find out my four simple behavior rules and a bonus instructional technique that will help save your sanity:

If you’d like a copy of the course outline mentioned in the video, click here. Unfortunately, I don’t have an editable version because Adobe software doesn’t easily convert to Google Docs or Microsoft Word, but you can copy the text from the PDF and paste it into your own document, making edits to the content and format to suit your needs. Enjoy.

Teach on, everyone!

Join the conversation! 4 Comments

  1. I love the short and sweet version, but my school is a stickler for everything being spelled out. If it’s not in writing, then I can’t enforce it. So my syllabus is 5 pages long – ridiculous!


  2. Thank you so much for posting your course outline! This is my first full year of teaching high school English, and I’m always curious about how other teachers lay out their info and guidelines. I already got some new ideas to add to my syllabus for this next trimester (which starts in 2 weeks!).

    Question: You mention not starting class until it is absolutely quiet. I have tried this, and still have a class with students who NEVER stop the side conversations. I feel like I’m standing up there forever, saying in a low, firm voice (that starts to sound feeble to me after a while), “When the room is quiet, I will give instructions.” Other students will shush them, to no avail. It is quite frustrating. Thoughts on how I can improve the situation? Perhaps it’s my teacher newbie-ness showing through.


  3. Ugh, Nancy, that’s my nightmare! After my single-sheet, I just defer to the school policies that are in every student’s organizer. Imagine, each teacher on your staff creating those 5-page documents and running copies each term. Bananas, if you ask me.


  4. Oh yeah, Leandra, teens can definitely smell the new-ness on our first-year teachers and they’ll try to take advantage. I have a couple of ideas for you.

    First, call out one of the chatterkids by name, “Justin, we’re ready to roll up here. Are you with me?” Second, you could physically move toward the chatterkids (they’re usually in the back of the room, right?) and stand next to their desks until they stop. Third, you could use humor and awkwardness to make your point by joining their conversation, as the whole class is watching and waiting. “I know, right, Justin,” you say, smiling and nodding as you perch your elbow on his desk, “and then what did you do?” Finally, I’ve had success calming overly talkative classes by very quietly standing at the front and starting the lesson with something like (whispering), “Okay, I know only six of you can hear me right now, so I’m going to tell you the date of the next pop quiz. The ones in the back won’t hear what I’m about to say…” You’ll be amazed at how the peer pressure will shush those talkers straight-away.

    Of course, all of these are just small, in-the-moment ideas. If you have an obnoxious kid (or clump of kids) that just won’t stop talking, it’s time for a new seating chart, lunch detention, and/or call to their parents/guardians.

    You can also try this Confuse the Troublemaker technique that’s especially effective when used on the ringleader kid at the beginning of the year:

    Finally, remember that 30 seconds of waiting at the front of the room for them to settle down only feels like an eternity. In reality, it’s just 30 seconds and, I think, time well-spent to establish your classroom norms, especially as you’re about to launch a new term.

    Hope there’s a seed of a solution somewhere in this advice that’ll work for you, Leandra. Also, take comfort in knowing that we’ve ALL been there. You’ll get more confident over time and the kids will automatically know not to mess with you/try to walk all over you. It gets easier, I promise.

    Stay strong!
    🙂 Laura


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high school English, middle school, Uncategorized


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